byMark Labbe Pilot Staff
LYNN -- As Pope Francis launched a global campaign to support migrants around the world, Sept. 27, the Archdiocese of Boston came together in a show of solidarity for migrants and refugees during a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley at St. Mary Parish in Lynn.
The "Share the Journey" campaign, meant to encourage people to connect with migrants and humanize their plights, was announced by Pope Francis during his weekly General Audience hours before at the Vatican.
Designed to challenge misperceptions about migrants, the campaign was organized by Caritas Internationalis and is set to last for at least two years. A global network of organizations that include Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Relief Services, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops are participating in the campaign.
"Pope Francis is inviting people from our Church and all of those of good will to participate in this global campaign of migration, which launched today," said Cardinal O'Malley during his homily.
Parishioners, some of whom are immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as refugees, students from St. Pius V and St. Mary's School in Lynn, as well as representatives from Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services attended the standing-room-only 10 a.m. Mass.
In his homily, Cardinal O'Malley spoke about the global refugee crisis. Millions of people are displaced around the world, he said. "The only time that we have seen so many refugees was in the time of the Second World War."
At the onset of the war, in 1939, "125,000 Jews applied for visas at American consulates," he said. "They were refused, and most of them perished, victims of the Holocaust."
Yet, the cardinal said, the U.S. has a history of "being a land of freedom and of equality from all those fleeing from tyranny and poverty."
The cardinal said it is a notion enshrined on the Statue of Liberty, in Emma Lazarus' poem "The New Colossus."
Even so, "today, there are some who say keep your poor and hungry, send me your nuclear scientists, your soccer stars, and your ballerinas," said the cardinal.
"Yet, Jesus tells us that the tired, the poor, the hungry, the refugee have a special claim on our love," he continued.
He called to mind the parable of the Good Samaritan. Today, he said, people are not really able to read the parable as it was intended. When it was written, there was a great deal of tension between the Samaritans and the people of Israel.
"The Samaritans were seen as people who were foreigners, they were another religion, they were the enemy. Yet, in this wonderful parable, it's the foreigner, the person from the other religion, the enemy who turns out to be the compassionate one, the one who teaches us about love of neighborhood," he said.
"I often think, if Jesus were writing that parable today, maybe instead of using a Samaritan, he would talk about a Syrian Muslim talking care of an American left half dead along the road by muggers," he continued.
He reminded those at the Mass that it is "our humanity" that connects us with each other, and that "we are here to take care of each other, and take care of the planet."
"Happiness depends on making a gift of ourselves," he said.
Speaking to The Pilot following the Mass, Danielle Corea, Catholic Relief Services' Relationship Manager for Northeast Mid-Atlantic, said she believes the world-wide refugee crisis is one of the greatest challenges of our time.
"The fact that the Catholic Church is taking such a strong stance to support people that have been displaced and to make sure people can live up to their greatest potential is so inspiring and a message that really does connect to all of us around the world," she said.
Suham Khoshaba, a parishioner of St. Mary Parish, sat at the front of the church during the Mass. In 2008, she came to the country as a refugee from Iraq, and since that time, as found support from the Lynn parish.
"I love this country," she said. "It's a second opportunity for me. If I had been there in my country, Iraq, of course, I would have been killed."
She came to Massachusetts with the aid of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston, and found St. Mary Parish within her first week here. The parish was welcoming, and, in particular, the late Deacon Tim Dempsey, who died earlier this year, treated her almost as an adopted daughter, she said.
While assimilating to the culture wasn't an easy task, "God is good, and helps me a lot."
Khoshaba now volunteers at a food pantry run by Catholic Charities.
For Khoshaba, the Mass was an opportunity "to tell people we love everybody from every different religion, every different community, and we gather together, prayer for everybody, welcoming them."